'Not backed by science': LA County sheriff offers perplexing reason for refusal to enforce a mask mandate
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva is refusing to enforce a mask mandate because he claims it is "not backed by science." On Friday, July 16, Villanueva released a statement pushing back against the proposed mandate as he offered specifics about why he opposes masks for certain people, according to Axios.
"Forcing the vaccinated and those who already contracted COVID-19 to wear masks indoors is not backed by science and contradicts the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines," Villanueva said in the statement.
While he did admit that the L.A. County Public Health Department does have the authority to enforce the measure, he made it clear his "underfunded/defunded" law enforcement agency will not be following suit.
"The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (DPH) has authority to enforce the order, but the underfunded/defunded Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department will not expend our limited resources and instead ask for voluntary compliance," the statement continued. "We encourage the DPH to work collaboratively with the Board of Supervisors and law enforcement to establish mandates that are both achievable and supported by science."
The county mask mandate comes as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the area. As of Thursday, July 15, the county's seven-day COVID case average jumped to 1,077. The New York Times also reported that "between Dec. 7 and June 7, the unvaccinated accounted for 99.6% of the county's coronavirus cases, 98.7% of COVID-19 hospitalizations and 99.8% of deaths."
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